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Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)

posted onJanuary 11, 2020

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) was established in 1887 during the first South African gold rush to raise the capital required to develop the mining industry. It is the oldest existing and largest exchange on the African continent. 

The exchange was founded by a London businessman, Benjamin Minors Woollan as the Johannesburg Exchange & Chambers Company and was housed at the corner of Commissioner and Simmonds Streets.  A frenzy of trading occurred most days with people from all over the world trying to get their share of the wealth eminating from what would soon be recognised as the largest gold field on earth.  

What immediately gave the JSE a clear advantage over exchanges such a London, was that listing of companies for a quotation on the Official List of the JSE was a relatively easy and cheap procedure. This non-restricting nature of the early Johannesburg Stock Exchange promoted a wave of registrations on the Official List, with 300 companies by the end of January 1890. 

In 1903, a storey building that took up an entire whole city block was built for the JSE on Hollard Street. After World War II, it became apparent that this building was again inadequate and in 1947 the decision was made to rebuild the stock exchange. It took 11 years before construction began and in February 1961 the second exchange at Hollard Street was officially opened with Presidents and Chairmen of famous stock exchanges including London, New York, Paris and Frankfurt being invited to the grand opening.

(The Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1893 Photo: Gannon & Hawskey - This file is from the British Library/ Mechanical Curator collection)

Johannesburg Stock Exchange 1893

Following the first legislation covering financial markets in 1947, the JSE joined the World Federation of Exchanges in 1963 and upgraded to an electronic trading system in the early 1990s. 

The JSE has had a remarkable six homes during its existence. Until the year 2000 it was based in Johannesburg’s historic city centre. Nowadays you will find it in a modern glass-fronted building in the heart of the Sandton financial district, surrounded by banks and corporate headquarters. 

In 2001, the JSE acquired the South African Futures Exchange (SAFEX). That year, an agreement was struck between the JSE with the London Stock Exchange enabling cross-dealing between the two bourses and replacing the JSE's trading system with that of the LSE.

Two years later, JSE launched an alternative exchange, AltX, for small and mid-sized listings.
The JSE  demutualised in 2005 and listed on its own exchange on June 5, 2006. 

In 2009, the JSE acquired the Bond Exchange of South Africa (BESA) and rebranded it the JSE debt market adding South African government and corporate bonds as well as interest rate derivatives to its product set.

In 2014, the JSE re-branded to demonstrate the bourse's identity as a modern African marketplace that connects investors to growth opportunities not only in South Africa but globally. 

Based in Johannesburg, the JSE is one of the world’s 20 largest exchanges by its market capitalisation of just over $1 billion. It offers a fully electronic, efficient, secure market with world-class regulation, trading and clearing systems, settlement assurance and risk management. Its role is to act as a link between listed companies, investors, global markets and digital technology. 

Johannesburg Stock Exchange CEO

Key people:
Dr Leila Fourie   (CEO)
Dr Fourie was appointed as Group CEO of JSE Limited on 1 October 2019. She is a seasoned business executive having previously served as an executive director of the JSE, and her career of more than 25 years spans the capital markets, payment systems, consulting, investment banking and retail banking.

Phone: +27 11 520 7000
Address: 2 Gwen Ln, Sandown, Sandton, 2196, South Africa

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